Bakery Spotlight: Cupcakes Squared

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Looking for a delicious way to celebrate that special occassion, but don’t want to do what everyone has already done?  Grab a few dozen of square cupcakes from Cupcakes Squared in San Diego, California. That’s right; SQUARE CUPCAKES!  I was completely in awe when I first saw these sweet treats with a twist! 

From the website:

Our cupcakes are more like individual gourmet cakes with over 28 flavors and a unique shape as well. The custom individual wrapping makes for a new experience. Custom made baking pans and paper wrappers make these cupcakes truly and original work of art and an uncopied look. This is the only square cupcake IN THE WORLD!

 

 The menu here consists of everything from Vanilla (Luscious hawaiian vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting) to Pistachio Pomegranate (Moist pistachio cake with pomegranate cream frosting), so their flavors are sure to impress even those with the most discerning palate.  For a complete list of flavor offerings be sure to visit their website.  They are open 7 days per week, so you can satisfy that sweet tooth any time you please!

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My Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Experience

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On September 10th of this year, I was fortunate enough to participate in a new home build with Habitat for Humanity  located in  Trinty Park,  it’s first ever planned development.  At 7am, my fellow FedEx Sales team & I rolled up our sleeves to partner with Memphis Habitat as part of my company’s commitment to build affordable homes in the Memphis area.

Since Habitat for Humanity is an international ecumenical Christian housing ministry that aims to eliminate substandard housing and make safe, healthy and affordable shelter, we started our morning by joining hands in prayer with the site leader from Habitat. Although the work was tough, the team thoroughly enjoyed the time under the leadership of construction site supervisor E. Jimmie Holmes.  Before our build actually began, Jimmie took about 20 minutes to go over construction site safety, point out the “leads” for this project, and stressed the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day.

The seasoned Habitat for Humanity volunteers were quick to tutor us on the art of framing a house as well as how to use the various power tools.  They encouraged everyone to get involved and by the end of the day we were all skilled at measuring wooden boards, raising walls into place, and assembling walls & corner posts.

“The supporters of Memphis Habitat have worked tirelessly to make Trinity Park a reality for a number of years, and we’re thrilled that day has finally arrived,” said Dwayne Spencer, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. “We are confident Trinity Park will make a positive impact not only on the lives of the homeowners, but also on the entire Memphis community.”

“Financial ratios and benchmark data may provide some insights on a nonprofit’s performance, but mission is the heart of the matter (Worth, 2009 p.130).”  The mission of Habitat for Humanity is simple – through the labor of volunteers as well as donations of money and materials, they are able to build and rehabilitate simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner “partner” families.  “One thing nonprofit organizations do not do is distribute profits to individual owners in the form of dividends or use those profits to enhance the wealth of owners through the increasing value of the enterprise (Worth, 2009 p. 8).” Habitat for Humanity prides itself on being a hand up, not a hand out.  Homeowners must invest hundreds of hours of their own labor called “sweat equity” into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.  All Habitat houses are sold to partner families at absolutely no profit, financed with affordable, 0% interest loans. Then, the homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat houses. Thus, the cycle of giving back continues.

The best part of this experience was the realization that I played a small part in the realization of their dreams of becoming homeowners.  To get involved in building affordable housing in your community, visit http://www.habitat.org/local to find your nearest affiliate.  Everyone who wishes to volunteer must fill out a volunteer waiver.  Habitat for Humanity keeps these waivers on file for one year, so you can volunteer as much as you would like during that one year period.  Each year volunteers need to fill out a new waiver form and turn it in at the work site on the day they volunteer.  “The roots of America’s nonprofit sector lie in the ancient traditions of charity, philanthropy, and volunteerism (Worth, 2009 p.6).” Habitat is a worldwide, grass roots movement with more than 2,100 active affiliates in 92 countries, including all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico (Habitat for Humanity, 2008).

References

Habitat for Humanity. (2008). About Us: Facts About Housing. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis: http://www.memphishabitat.com/index.shtml

Habitat for Humanity International. (2010). Find Local Affiliates, Volunteer Opportunities, News, Events. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from Habitat for Humanity International: http://www.habitat.org/cd/local/

Worth, M. J. (2009). Nonprofit Management Principles and Practice. Thousand Oaks : SAGE.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

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Happy October Cupcake Lovers!  As you all may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What better way to celebrate such an amazing cause than with pink cupcakes!  This month I will be baking my own creation of strawberry berry goodness cupcakes in the local Memphis area  and all proceeds will go to the Susan B. Komen Foundation, the worlds largest network of breast cancer suvivors & activists, fighting to save lives.  The only thing better than baking cupcakes is baking cupcakes with a cause.

This is one of my favorite strawberry cupcake recipies.  Super moist & amazingly delicious.  Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Cupcakes (makes 18 cupcakes):
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
2 teaspoon strawberry extract
1 cups pureed fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup butter-softened
1 8oz package cream cheese-softened
2 teaspoon strawberry extract
6 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
Pink Food Coloring

Directions :

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large mixing bowl,beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg whites one at a time,beating well after each addition.
  • Stir in strawberry extract,pureed strawberries,and sour cream.
  • In a medium mixing bowl,sift together flour,baking powder,soda,and salt.
  • Gradually add to butter mixture,beating until combined.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared cupcake pans.
  • Bake for 15-20minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove onto wire rack.
  • Cool completely before frosting

Frosting:

  • In a large bowl,beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth.
  • Add strawberry extract beating until combined.
  • Add food coloring until desired color is reached
  • Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth

Garnish cupcakes with fresh strawberries after frosting & Enjoy!~

 

~Peace.Love.Cupcakes.

Bakery Spotlight: Muddy’s Bake Shop (Memphis, TN)

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My first bakery spotlight is Memphis’ very own Muddy’s Bake Shop!  Muddy’s prides themselves with making delicious cupcakes with only the freshest ingredients!!  And we love the fact that they only use caged free eggs in all of their desserts.  From the website:

Muddy’s is a small neighborhood bakery made of up of people who have chosen to pursue a career where they connect with their community through baked goods; we do this because we love to bake (and eat!) and we love people.

Popular flavors from Muddy’s include Frankly Scarlett, Pink Lady, and the Grasshopper.  Regular sized cupcakes are only $1.60 and mini cupcakes can be purchased by the dozen for $8.50.  How can they afford to be so inexpensive yet so delicious?  The keep their costs low by not advertising.  Thats right!  Muddy’s rely’s on word of mouth to keep their business running,  It’s truly all about the cupcakes here!

Frankly Scarlett

 

Pink Lady

 

Grasshopper

If you are ever in the Memphis area, you can visit Muddy’s at 5101 Sanderlin #114
Memphis, TN 38117.  They are open Tues-Saturday.

~Peace.Love.Cupcakes.

What Makes a Good Cupcake???

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When I first decided that I wanted to venture into the world of cupcakes, I had to ask myself “What makes a damn good cupcake?”  Now don’t get me wrong.  I completely understand that some things are totally objective.  I get that.  But let’s face it.  There are simply some things that can’t be overlooked.  For the sake of time (and sanity), I will focus on those things. 

First things first.  The number 1 factor in determining if your cupcakes are good is moistnessThe term moistness simply refers to the freshness & softness of your dessert.  No one wants to eat a cupcake (or any cake for that matter) that is dried out.  There is no one single method of obtaining the most moist cupcake ever, but I’ve heard a few tips in my baking career that I don’t mind sharing.  Tip 1: Dont overbake the cupcakes.  A baking thermometer can help with this. Remember:  Cupcakes continue to bake in the pan after you take them out of the oven, so please plan accordingly. Tip 2:  Minimize your cupcake’s exposure to the air.  I like to store my cupcakes (at home) in an air tight Tupperware style cake plate or cupcake tray. Tip 3:  Increase the fat content, whether oil, shortening, or butter. Liquid fats tend to work really well to keep moisture, hence why oil is included in your moistest cake recipes.

Secondly, “Good Cupcakes” must have a good flavor.  The flavor of the actual icing on your cupcake is just as important as the cupcake flavor itself.  Now flavors don’t necessarily have to be complex in order to be “good”, but the flavors must be clean, distinct & complementing.  Have fun with your flavors! Don’t be afraid to experiment & try new things, but just make sure those who have to eat your cupcakes can recognize the flavors that they are eating.  They need to taste like what they are supposed to taste like.  If your cupcake has a strawberry based flavor, people should recognize that they are eating something that taste like strawberries.  Good flavor combinations will feel like a party in your mouth! 

Lastly, good cupcakes (especially when you are presenting them to the public) need to look good.  Thats right.  Appearance can make or break your cupcakes.  If they don’t look good, no one will want to eat them.  Good color combinations of your icing and decorations is important.  Make sure the colors complement each other, or compliment the theme you are going for. If you want to keep your frostings & decorations simple, you can always use decorative cupcake liners to spice things up a bit. 

What do you think?  What would you add to my top 3 things?  Let’s hear it!

~Peace. Love. Cupcakes.

Hello Cupcake!

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Welcome to She Makes Cupcakes! I am excited about my new blog and everything I have in store for you. Feel free to share all experiences related to cupcakes. Here you will find recipies, photos, decorating tips and reviews on everything related to cupcakes. Oh, and if you want to see anything else featured on your new favorite blog… just ask!

~Peace.Love.Cupcakes.

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